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Apple iPhone 4 Review

Apple iPhone 4 from side


June 23rd, 2011

The iPhone 4 is a touchscreen smartphone developed by Apple. It is the fourth generation of iPhone, and successor to the iPhone 3G introduced in 2008.

The Apple iPhone 4 offers a number of new and enhanced features, including; a high quality 3.5-inch Retina monitor display with 960 x 640 pixel resolution, a new 5 megapixel autofocus camera with a 5x digital zoom, a backside illuminated sensor and built-in LED flash, HD video recording, and a second front facing VGA camera that is intended for FaceTime Video Calling (or Skype).

The iPhone 4 offers a sleek and stylish all-new design and is the thinnest smartphone ever at only 9.3 millimeters thick. The front and back are made of aluminosilcate glass, chemically strengthened to be 30 times harder than plastic, and offering enhanced scratch resistance and durability. The front and back glass have an oil-resistant coating that helps keep it clean, and encircling iPhone 4 is a highly finished stainless steel band made of a custom alloy that is forged to be five times stronger than standard steel.

Apple iPhone 4 side view

Apple iPhone 4 Major Features

• Large 3.5 inch high-resolution Touch LCD screen: By developing pixels a mere 78 micrometers wide, Apple engineers were able to pack four times the number of pixels into the same 3.5-inch (diagonal) screen found on earlier iPhone models. The resulting pixel density of iPhone 4 — 326 pixels per inch — makes text and graphics look smooth and continuous at any size.

The iPhone 4 Retina display uses technology called IPS (in-plane switching) — the same technology used in the Apple LED Cinema Display and iPad — to achieve a wider viewing angle than on typical LCDs. The Retina display also offers four times the contrast ratio of previous models, so whites are brighter, and blacks are darker.

The Retina display includes LED backlighting and an ambient light sensor that intelligently adjusts the brightness of the screen for optimal viewing and battery life.

The high-resolution 3.5-inch Retina display is a great way to watch TV shows and movies on a mobile device. Graphics look crisp and detailed, and the wide viewing angle lets your friends watch at the same time. To enjoy the show, just download content from the iTunes Store or sync video from your iTunes library on your Mac or PC.

• Tap (or speak) to call: To make a call on the iPhone 4, simply tap a name or number. You can tap to call from just about anywhere: a name in your contacts list, a number on a website or text message, even a phone number on a map listing. Voice Control lets you speak a name or number to make a call. And with a tap, you can switch between calls, merge calls, or add another caller.

• See your voicemail: Visual Voicemail lets you view all the messages you’ve received and select the one you want to hear first — just like email. So instead of listening to messages in the order they were received, you can go directly to the messages that are most important to you. To return a call, tap the Call Back button.

• Simple Text Messaging: Messages displays back-and-forth texts as speech bubbles in a list — just like you’d see in an instant messaging session. That makes it easy to pick up where you left off, or scroll up and down to see who said what. And you can delete whole conversations or individual texts with a swipe and a tap.

Apple iPhone 4 text messaging


With 'Messages' on the iPhone 4, you can text what you see and hear. If you see something worth sharing, take a photo or shoot some video, then send it via MMS to anyone. Or send photos and video you already have on your iPhone. Even send audio recordings from Voice Memos, contact information from Contacts, and locations from Maps.

• 5MP camera with 5x digital zoom: The iPhone 4 offers a built-in 5 megapixel camera which offers up to 5x digital zoom. A built-in LED flash illuminates low-light scenes for stills or movies.

By simply carrying the iPhone 4, users have access to a 5MP resolution single lens digital camera that offers 2592 x 1936 image file size, ideal for capturing images whenever an unexpected opportunity arises.

Sample image captured with iPhone 4

Pictures taken with the iPhone 4 can be easily printed out via Wi-Fi enabled printers, or imported into your computer by syncing the device or using a Wi-Fi transfer App. There is a large range of image manipulation and enhancement software Apps available for the iPhone 4 from the App Store. Some of them like Adobe Photoshop Express are free, while others can be downloaded for a small fee.

Pictures can be easily tagged and uploaded directly from the iPhone 4 to popular social networking sites such as Facebook. So if you want your friends to know what you are having for dinner, simply point and shoot and in a couple of easy steps post your food photo online.

Close-up shot taken with the Apple iPhone 4
Download larger size image here (1.45 MB)

• Tap to focus: You can tap the iPhone display to focus on anything in the picture — a face in the background, for example — before you take the photo. Focusing also adjusts exposure and white balance automatically, so you get the best-quality photo possible.

• HDR Mode: The camera features an HDR (Higher Dynamic Range) mode to deal with difficult lighting conditions. After selecting HDR, just point the iPhone 4 at your subject and shoot. iPhone 4 automatically captures three photos of the scene — each with different exposure levels. Then iPhone 4 layers the shots together to create a single photo that combines the best elements of each shot and more accurately represents the wide range of light in the scene. Works best with stationary subjects.

• GPS Geotagging: The iPhone 4 geotags your photos as you take them (can be disabled in setup). This feature allows you to browse your images based on where they were taken. To see all the photos you took in London, for example, tap the Places button, then tap the pin on London. You can even zoom in on the map to see places within London where you took pictures, such as Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, or other landmarks.

iPhone works seamlessly with Faces in iPhoto for the Mac, so you can view your photos organized not only by event or place but also by who’s in them. Say you want to see pictures of your best friend. Tap her picture in Faces view to open an album containing photos of her.

• Self-portraits made simple: Want to take a picture of yourself? The new VGA-quality front camera on iPhone 4 makes it easy. No need to flip your iPhone around to guess where you are in the frame. Instead, just activate the front camera with a tap, check your image on the display, and shoot.

• HD (720p) video recording up to 30 frames per second with audio: the iPhone 4's advanced backside illumination sensor is designed to deliver enhanced video in both bright and low-light settings. And in dark environments, you can brighten the scene with the built-in LED light.

No need to wait until you’re back at your computer to edit video. You can perform basic editing right in the Camera app. Just drag to select start and end points on a filmstrip.

Finished videos can be easily used as an email attachment or posted on YouTube straight from the phone.

• FaceTime Video Calling: Using FaceTime on compatible Apple devices (iPhone 4, iTouch, iPad etc.) is as easy as making a regular voice call, with no set-up required. You can also instantly switch to the rear camera to show others what you are seeing with just a tap on the "switch camera icon" displayed on the iPhone 4 screen.

• On Screen Keyboard: The iPhone 4 keyboard accelerates your typing because it tracks what you type, then suggests words, corrects spelling, and inserts punctuation for you.

While the smaller physical keys on other mobile phones are fixed in place, the iPhone 4 adapts its keys and layout for different applications.


When you’re using the Safari web browser, a “.com” key appears on the keyboard to help you type domain names faster. And the @ key appears when you’re typing an email.

The iPhone keyboard is adaptable, allowing you to switch between more than 40 international layouts. iPhone also features sophisticated character recognition software that lets you draw a Chinese character with your finger and tap to choose the matching result.

• Multitasking: Now you can run your favorite third-party apps — and switch between them instantly — without slowing down the performance of the foreground app or draining the battery unnecessarily. This feature is only available on the new Apple iOS 4 operating system incorporated in the iPhone 4.

The multitasking user interface allows you to quickly switch between apps. Just double-click the Home button to reveal your recently used apps. Scroll right to see more apps, then tap one to reopen it. No need to wait for the app to reload.

Apple iPhone 4 multi-tasking feature

Third-party apps such as Skype let you make voice calls over the Internet. Multitasking in iPhone 4 makes it possible to receive these Skype or VoIP calls while other apps are running, even when your iPhone is locked. And during a call, you can keep the conversation going while you switch to another task, such as checking a movie listing or reading an email.

With the multitasking feature you can also listen to audio from compatible third-party apps while checking email, surfing the web, playing games, and performing other tasks.

• The iOS 4 mobile operating system offers a 'Folders' feature: With Folders, users can easily organize their apps into collections by simply dragging one app on top of another. A folder is automatically created and named based on the category of apps selected. Users can change the name of any folder at any time. In addition, users can now customize their lock and home screens with an array of supplied wallpapers or with any of the photos on their phone.

• Enhanced 'Contacts' Application: The Contacts app on the iPhone 4 is more than simply a list of names and numbers. Tap a contact’s address and iPhone opens Maps so you can get directions. Add photos to your contacts and see your friends’ faces when they call. Scroll through names with a flick, or search to find someone fast. And sync all your contacts by connecting your iPhone to your Mac or PC, or wirelessly via Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and CardDAV-compliant servers.

• Safari Web Browser: Navigate web pages on the iPhone by simply using your finger. For a wider view, rotate iPhone 90 degrees to landscape. The web page rotates and the column you are reading fills the screen. You can also zoom in and out with a double tap or a pinch.

Apple iPhone 4 news app

If you check the same websites every day, create Home screen icons that let you access them from your Home screens with a single tap. Just visit the site in Safari, press the Add (+) button, and select “Add to Home Screen.”

• Easy email: The iPhone 4 works with popular email providers including Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and AOL — and most industry-standard IMAP and POP mail systems. Add multiple email accounts and move between them easily. iPhone also supports multiple Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync accounts for business use.

With the Apple iPhone 4, there’s more than one way to view your messages if you have multiple accounts. You can access each inbox separately and switch between inboxes with a few taps. Or for a faster look at your incoming messages, view email from all your accounts together in the unified inbox.

iPhone supports rich HTML email, so images appear inline with text. Email attachments such as Microsoft Office documents or PDFs can be seen in their original format. You can even open attachments in compatible third-party apps.

• Entertainment and Gaming: Every iPhone 4 has a built-in 3-axis gyro that when combined with the accelerometer provides 6-axis motion sensing such as up and down, side to side, forward and backward and pitch and roll, making it perfect for gaming. iPhone 4 is the leading mobile device for games and entertainment, with access to tens of thousands of games and entertainment apps from the Apple App Store.

Apple iPhone 4 game display

• Touch your music: the iPhone 4 provides a built-in iPod feature which lets you listen to music, watch video, and browse everything with the touch of a finger. Flick to scroll through songs, artists, albums, and playlists. Flick through music by album artwork with Cover Flow. Shake iPhone to shuffle songs. Create playlists right on your iPhone. And don’t worry about missing a call. The music fades and pauses when iPhone rings, and a pinch of the center button on the supplied earphones answers the call.

• Preloaded Apps: the iPhone 4 comes preloaded with a number of useful Apps. The Weather application provides the latest weekly weather forecast for your location or you can add multiple locations. The Calendar App allows you to manage your schedule. The Clock function offers World Time, Alarm, Stopwatch and Timer options.

Apple iPhone 4 weather app

• Maps and Compass: Say you’re in an unfamiliar neighborhood looking for a nearby restaurant. With the iPhone 4, you can pinpoint your location on a map so you can figure out how to get there from where you are. iPhone 4 finds your location quickly and accurately using a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular towers. As you move, iPhone updates your location automatically. And when you arrive, you can drop a pin to mark your location and share it with others via email or MMS.

iPhone 4 maps feature

The Compass app works with the built-in digital compass to tell you which direction your iPhone is facing. And in the Maps app, the compass rotates the onscreen map to match the direction you’re facing.

• Battery: The iPhone 4 comes supplied with a regular AC charger cord. The iPhone 4 battery can also be charged via USB connection to your computer.

Although battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors, according to the specifications from Apple, the iPhone 4 delivers up to seven hours of talk time on 3G networks, up to 10 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi and up to six hours on 3G, and up to 10 hours of video playback and up to 40 hours of audio playback.

iPhone 4 sample image
Download larger size image here (2.16 MB)

Apple iPhone 4 User Experience:

From the moment we got our hands on the iPhone 4 we liked it. The phone looks beautiful with a stylish sleek design and is comfortable to handle and hold. The iPhone 4 is a great tool that comes preloaded with a range of useful features and applications, including; push email, Safari browser for surfing the web, a good quality 5MP camera for shooting stills and the ability to record 720p HD movies, Maps for finding your way, a Calendar to manage your schedule, Weather Updates, and many more.

The apps that come with the iPhone 4 are just the beginning. Browse the App Store to find hundreds of thousands more, in all kinds of categories from games and entertainment, shopping, restaurant and travel locations, music, news and business, to Apps that allow you to even use your iPhone 4 as an emergency flashlight.

New Apps are continuously being developed, and they are one of the main features that sets the iPhone 4 apart from the competition and add to the wow factor of the phone.

The iPhone 4's large 3.5-inch Retina display is very good, providing easy to read sharp text and clear graphics. The auto brightness feature also works well, with the iPhone 4 automatically adjusting the screen according to lighting conditions. In general we found the screen on the iPhone 4 easy to view, even in sunny conditions.

The built-in camera on the iPhone 4 provides very respectable picture quality for a mobile phone. Although the camera does not offer an optical zoom, there is a 5x digital zoom function available. The digital zoom function has a pretty detrimental effect on image quality, so we would recommend trying not to use it unless necessary.

The great thing about the still / video camera capability built-in to the iPhone 4 is that you always have a camera with you when a sudden opportunity arises.

Download larger size image here (1.94 MB)

While stepping in to the local hardware store recently, I came across a great offer on an outdoor patio set. I took a picture of the instore display with my iPhone 4 and sent it to my wife's iPhone, and she was able to add her opinion and agree to purchase the set without having to come to the store.

iPhone 4 sample image indoors
Download larger size image here (2.15 MB)

The HD 720p movie quality produced by the iPhone 4 is also quite impressive, especially under brighter lighting conditions. The sound quality is pretty good overall, although we did observe the occassional wind noise being picked up by the microphone in outdoor conditions.

Based on our experience with the iPhone 4, the battery longevity exceeded our expectations. We managed to go almost two days without having to recharge the phone during our testing. That included regular usage such as managing emails, taking pictures, texting, web browsing, testing the FaceTime feature, downloading a few Apps, some gaming and checking out a couple of short clips on Youtube. All in all quite impressive.

As far as internal storage goes, you can buy the new iPhone in either 16GB or 32GB capacity offering plenty of room for storing pictures, video and music.

With respect to making and placing calls the iPhone 4 performed well in our tests. We did not have any major issues with dropped calls, even when using the iPhone 4 in downtown Toronto between a series of tall buildings. We did experience one dropped call while inside a store at the Eaton Center Mall, although this was not a big surprise given the location deeper inside the mall where signal interference can be expected to be a concern.

One of the few issues we had with the iPhone 4 relates to the speakerphone, which we feel should offer a louder volume capability. Occassionally the speakerphone would also cut out the conversation, with everything being fine once we switched the speakerphone off.

That being said we have no hesitation in highly recommending the iPhone 4, which in our opinion is quite simply the most elegant looking and versatile smartphone on the market, and one that evokes a feeling of pride of ownership while providing a high range of functionality.

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